Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I like this blog voting thing. I am going to do this more often.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

vote for my coat

you too can help me with fashion. Which of the following coats should I buy?
A. (The red one. I would buy the cream but I can't keep anything clean.) I like the way the belt is lower on the hips.

B. I really like the vintage look of this one. It reminds me of Charlize Theron in Cider House Rules.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear Sick People

Moosewood Low-Fat Cookbook's Garlic Broth is the most healing food I can imagine. It is, basically, broth with a roasted and pureed head of garlic and miso. It is delicious, and when I drink it it just feels like the restorativeness just flows through my body. I know that sounds all new agey and crap, but it really f-in works. You'll get much better if you're sniffling and you have some. Just in case you might be sick for the holidays.

Xmas list

THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE (from entirely reasonable to entirely unreasonable)
you knew it was coming...
-Frye black harness boots, blue harness boots, or the blue boots from a previous post

-a better iPod than my shuffle

-a new coat

-some new earrings
-Sontaigo's new CD Steel Yourself
-a new tablecloth
-Henckle knives
-a vintage spice rack
-a hanging pot rack
-egg poaching thing from Fat Baxter's
-a new guitar: Scott Conley acoustic and Fender Telecaster electric
-new potholders
-blue pitcher from Clay City Redux for cream
-this dress from Only Hearts, which would look better on me because I won't have that silly look on my face.
-Van Morrison and the Cheiftains Irish Heartbeat CD
-a new office chair
-my student loans paid off
-a Thai Yoga massage from Guy McChesney
-tickets all over the world
-an organizational consultant
-a cleaning person to do my fish tank
-something small, circular, sparkly, size 7. What?! A girl can always hope.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

oh yes, more reasons... hate shopping (OK, to hate shopping at the Mall area.)
-you are forced to listen to Sarah McLaughlin or that band that won the key to the city of Portland or, even worse, Mariah Carey singing "All I Want for Christmas" or Bruce Springsteen singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" as if he were dying.
-you really want something and you can't find it.
-all the kids' toys these days are of characters such as Dora, Barbie, or the Hookerz-oops, I mean Bratz.
-everything in every store looks the same. NO ONE looks good in those stupid dresses and blouses that are shaped for pregnant people. Not even pregnant people. But that is all you can find because that is what someone decided was cool.

But here is what I love: shopping locally. When I wander around the stores in downtown Portland, I:
-get to talk with Diane at Ferdinand when I go buy some Police Puffy stickers
or some cool blue hoop earrings. Diane called me "so employable."
- can stop at a lovely coffee shop and have conversations with friends that work there.
- run into people i know.
- can find vintage clothes that are unique and cut in a shape that does not make me look pregnant.
-support local businesses owned by people that i have met.
-get better exercise and fresh air because i am walking around outside to the stores.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh

I had to go shopping today. I had to return a gift that was purchased at the Mall. Oh, man. I hate the Mall. First, I watched as 3 people hurried past an old couple with canes, the woman dragging an oxygen tank, and none offered them help up the steep step. I almost stopped the car and got out and helped them.

Then, I was in Staples, which was strange to begin with, and the radio played "Kyrie Eleison" by Mr. Mister followed by "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.

I wanted a soap dispenser and a coat, keeping my eyes open along the way for tights and gifts for me niece and nephew. It started snowing and 5 hours later I made it home. That's why I go only once a year.

Monday, December 3, 2007

little moments of love

when i talked to my 6 year old niece Miranda last night she told me there were 23 days till Christmas. Then when i would see her in three weeks, she said, "Really, Christmas is three weeks away?"

when i asked her what she wanted and she said, "I don't know, it's a really hard decision."

when my nephew Dustin told me he wanted a batman mask.

when i come to bed and Jon is already asleep and he makes that little noise he makes in a half attempt to acknowledge me.

when i looked outside this morning and there was snow stuck to the red berries on the bush outside the window.

when i hear the foghorn through the snow.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

recent knitting projects finally finished!

This is my dear dear friend's new baby, Edith, wearing a hat I knit for her. I felted an old sweater and cut the star out of that.

And here are some fingerless gloves that I was supposed to make for someone last Christmas and just finished them! Which is silly, as they took all of 2 hours tops. Anyway, she'll be surprised!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

crepes, part deux

This morning's crepes were quite a success! I bought a steel crepe pan at LeRoux Kitchen last week (thankfully, there was a very knowledgeable dude there this time). I have been itching to try it. I googled Martha Stewart crepe recipes, reluctantly admitting that she has really good baking recipes. That crazy bitch made me strain the batter! Oh, but they were so good. The filling was made with whipped cream cheese and Jon's sister Jenni's homemade cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving. I am going to see what happens if I don't strain the batter next time, as that was a bit of a pain. But, holy cow, yum. Watch out Frenchies!

By the way, the crepe pan was awesome. I can flip the crepes without burning my fingers now.

Some other fillings I want to try:
carmelized apples
something pecan-y
something lemon-y
pesto and goat cheese
something butternut squash-y

Any ideas?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

listful (of happiness)

1. I talked on the phone for 45 minutes yesterday to an old friend today who always makes me laugh out loud. I love him. If anyone is single and living in Cincinnati and wants to meet a great guy, I'll accept applications.
2. A friend surprised me last night with a lovely and much appreciated gift. A real set of decent silverware! It is beautiful, and I donated our old stuff to a young, pregnant refugee. Etienne, your gift touched a lot of people!
3. It feels very warm when a child says your name for the first time. Then, they show up chanting your name a week later, and you fall in love.
4. I love my parents. They are fun, youthful, and very hip in their own ways.
5. OK, just knowing these boots exist makes me happy:


Something about the weather today makes me want to be in Cherokee Park in Louisville more than any other place. (10 less degrees and I would say the Caribbean visiting Daisy.) The just-past-crisp temperature of late late fall and the soft blue sky just beg me to be outside in a comfortable and inviting place. Where better than the park in which I grew up? Cherokee Park has arguably the best sledding hill east of downtown. (A close contender is the Crescent Hill Golf Course.) I spent hours as a child searching for salamanders and crawdads under the flat stones in Beargrass Creek at Big Rock. I love the jigsaw bark of the enormous sycamore trees. And i flirted with germs and disaster barefoot at Hogan's Fountain. As a teenager, my friends and I would lay on our backs on the hill and stargaze, or sneak out onto the horse bridge connecting Cherokee to Seneca and drink beer. I think Cherokee Park is one of the most beautiful gems of Louisville. I can't wait to show it to Jon. I just wish there would be some leaves on the trees still.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

when life gets a bit boring...

...atomic fireballs are nice.

Friday, November 16, 2007

i would like my 2+ hours back please

I love Beyonce. Jennifer Hudson has an amazing voice. But Dreamgirls is seriously in my top 10 worst movies ever.

oh, what a slut!

This was sent to me today:

"I wonder if you know how inappropriate it looks to see a young lady chewing gum at all, never mind in front of a TV camera and during a meeting. Young ladies should not chew gum in public.

Please give this some serious thought. We do not need to give the general public any other reasons to comment. Thanks for your consideration."

Monday, November 12, 2007


I feel a bit bad, today i was kind of mean to the ladies at LeRoux kitchen. I brought two crepe pans to the counter and asked if they knew anything about them. They then proceeded to tell me that one was non-stick and one was steel, which was clearly stated on the packaging. Then they told me that they sold a lot of a particular one. I worked at LeRoux one Christmas, and I can say that we sold a lot of stuff, and that did not necessarily reflect quality as much as consumerism.

Regardless, I am embarking on a journey to learn the art of crepe making (and maybe you might find some breakfast crepes at a certain hill-top market soon if all goes well). I tried this morning for the first time ever, using my iron skillet and the Joy of Cooking. They turned out pretty good for the first time, but the recipe could use some help, I think. And, with a lighter pan, I could get the motion better. I was pretty good at the flipping! Anyway, I served them with cinnamon cream cheese and some blueberry sauce that Daisy's mom or dad made. Yum.

Next I will try checking out Martha Stewart, and Etienne is going to come give me a tutorial. Oh, the dreary, hard work ahead!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I just found out today that a group founded by Pat Robertson is suing the PPS over this birth control thing! The best part is that they sent a letter to all the committee members (one of which is me!) starting, "Dear SIRS". Apparently when you are that conservative you cannot imagine that a WOMAN could be elected to public office!

Maybe I'll get to meet Pat Robertson! What should I wear?

In the meantime, I love Portland. It is really great to know that most people in Portland can see through this and support us.

Friday, November 2, 2007

um, really?

This, from the comments on, is why we need to continue to teach science:

"God told Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth. His commandment has far yet to go to be fulfilled."

Excuse me? 6.5 Billion is not enough?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Not getting it in so many ways

From, "the premier online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web...working to roll back decades of governmental largesse, to root out political fraud and corruption, and to champion causes which further conservatism in America."
re: middle school birth control and the members of the school committee who voted for it:
"Rebecca Minnick: Member of the Green Independent Party. Plays in a band called Arms for Ex-lovers...Need I say anymore???"

And another from the site:
"I find it endlessly fascinating....parents who would go into vapors at the thought of their child with a loaded gun, have absolutely no problem with provding something roughly as dangerous...birth control and implied permission to use it."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Question of the week

This week I started my new job at the very charming, brand-spanking new Fat Baxter's on Munjoy Hill. The food is good, people are excited, and there are jars of penny candy behind the counter.

So, a group of little boys (my favorite of whom is Dominican and has the biggest smile ever) come in several times on opening day with their pockets full of change to buy penny candy. By the third time, only one has any money left. "How many Swedish Fish can I get with this much?" And he puts 17 cents on the counter. Nice work cleaning out the couch cushions.

The answer was 5.

I'm quite charmed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OK, OK, I'll smile

Having a hard time finding time to do anything on the internet than read all the insane emails I've received lately regarding the middle school birth control thing.

Out of necessity, things that make me smile:
1. Those people around town that always have a smile for you. Currently I am enjoying smiles from Josh Loring and very cheery emails from the very cute Sena Phen and Katie Feltman (who was voted best smile in our class in college).
2. It smells like fall and the leaves are making a lovely crunching sound under my feet.
3. I watched the sunrise over Casco Bay this morning and remembered why I live in the best city in the world.
4. Jon was really hyper and cute last night and I am a very lucky girl. (Sorry, but it's true.)
5. I got the following email from someone: " From Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own: 'It's supposed to be hard! If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.' You have made me very proud to live here."
6. Friends are the best. Especially when they call you just to say hi from the Caribbean!
7. Iron and Wine. Sam Beam has the vocal equivalent of a warm fuzzy blanket, a fireplace, and a cup of hot cocoa.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I absolutely love old cemeteries. Ever since I was a young girl, I looked forward to quiet, peaceful walks in a sea of statues and knobby trees. Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville is one of the most breath-taking places in the whole city. There are hundreds of species of trees in the arboretum, including swamp cedar that I called "Bell-bottom trees" when I was little. Cave Hill is home to such famous people as John Keats' brother George, Patty Smith Hill (who wrote "Happy Birthay"), famous generals, and--yes-- Colonel Sanders (who, much to the disappointment of many tourists, does not have a chicken or a bucket for a gravestone).

If you ever travel to Louisville, you must make a stop to see the Satterwhite Temple and to feed the ducks, turkeys, geese, and swans, and check out the koi and stripers in the ponds.

I love the ancient names, the sad little cherubs, the trees growing through the gravestones, and the bright colored lichens on crumbling granite gravestones that are so old that you can barely see the words. I love the incomplete stories the stones evoke, time and time again, telling of love ones remembered.

I have found none to rival Cave Hill, mostly because it was the place of my childhood, but I am sure we all have such attachments.

Portland has a few cool cemeteries:
-The Eastern Cemetery has some awesome Gothic stones in the oldest section. You can get in by the secret hole in the fence or by stopping by the book store across the street for the key. Rumor has it that the worst criminals were buried under the roads as one last "F You." The oldest known stone is dated 1717.

-Bring binoculars to Evergreen Cemetery, which is a big stop for migrating birds, especially warblers. Apparently they have a "problem" with coyotes eating the ducks. (Cause the happenings of nature are so problematic.) If you go another time, you can look for tadpoles, turtles, and gigantic snails in the pond. One spring we spotted a black-crowned night heron and a hummingbird sitting in her nest.

Here are my favorite cemetery names:
-Mehetable Coolbroth (Western Cemetery in Portland. There is also a Mehetable in Evergreen. Apparently this was a woman's name. FYI, this grave is a "hole" in the Western Cemetary Disc Golf Course.)
- Hester Sylvester (Upper Mast Landing Rd, Freeport)
-Anger Prout (Upper Mast Landing Rd, Freeport)
-Fitzhugh McGrew (Evergreen, Portland.) Wonder if he is related to Quickdraw McGraw?

Best epitaphs:
-"Jesus is mine." (Evergreen)
"Here moulders the body..."
and my favorite ever, "...His Radiant Wife, aged 84" (Prospect Hill, Brattleboro VT)

I hope when I am 84 someone would still describe me as radiant.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

10 things i want

1. A job that I want to stay at for years and can grow in and with a boss that I love.
2. Some silverware that doesn't have plastic blue handles.
3. An airbrushed t-shirt with the word "Tooken" on it.
4. A crock pot.
5. A doctor who knows my name without looking at a chart. Oh, OK, I would settle for just health care.
6. One more day of 65 degree weather so I can jump in the ocean one more time.
7. A mutt. (Part German Shepherd, part lab, maybe some Rottweiler?) Actually, a Mutt just like Hershey on Vesper St.
8. A Halloween costume idea.
9. Hot dance skillz.
10. Cheap plane tickets home for Christmas.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Taste the Water

So I finally read my brother's book, and it is really good! You should check it outas well. It as listed #2 on Carmichael's Bookstore's top 10 favorites a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Josh Ritter @ SPACE

Went to SPACE last night to see the sold-out Josh Ritter show. Here's what I loved about it:
-the age range, from middle-aged fans to 18 year olds, and the fact that most of them were not familiar faces.
-How much fun is it to watch someone with that much energy? Maybe he was baked, I don't know, but he smiled from ear to ear almost all night, and hopped little hops around all over the stage, both during the show and in transit. Kinda like a leprechaun.
-Who kicks off their tour in Portland?
-Nice mix of solo and full band.
-I love to see performers that actually dress up for shows.
-A great group bow, and a great encore with 3 or 4 songs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

6 things seen on the East Side

1. Is that Jake Gyllenhall's face glued to the back of a stop sign on Vesper and Moody?
2. Councilor Kevin Donoghue riding his bike up Munjoy Hill while talking on a cell phone.
3. Partial pineapple and pair of pants (Fore St. at Munjoy South.)

4. Dude in SUV yelling and cussing out his window at me to get off my ----in cell phone . Apparently he did not want to stop for me in the crosswalk at Fore and Exchange and thought my talking would be a good scapegoat.
5. Lovely red poppies in the Garden in Progress at the St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center.
6. Dead, smooshed worm in the shape of a heart on the Prom.
7. Me working on my computer in my car at the corner of Vesper and the Prom because we can no longer get online in my apt! :(

flakiness is next to Godliness

Yeah, I'm gonna brag: I won first place in an apple pie competition. Specifically, they said, for the crust. I don't think a pie is worth eating unless the crust is homemade and flaky.

So, once upon a time, I wanted to impress a boy. He was Quebecois, and I thought I would woo him with my southern charm by making my favorite dessert, Kentucky Derby Pie. (Now, this name is copyrighted, but I just don't believe in copyrighting a name as common as Kentucky Derby Pie, especially by a company who cares not about their crust.) You might find the recipe on the web under Kentucky Chocolate Pie, Horse Race Pie, or my favorite for silliness: First Saturday of May Pie. (I kid you not!) (You also will probably find it here some day.)

Anyway, I called my friend's mom who was a baker, and who I'd known for years, as she was a regular at the lovely and fantastic Paul's Fruit Market in Louisville's Chenoweth Square, where I'd worked for 7 years. She did not have a clue who I was. GREAT. Regardless, she shared with me her secrets and they have never failed me. Weirdo Canuck was impressed, award was won, and Portlanders anxiously await the first Sat. of May each year so that they, too, can have a piece of my pie.

Mama Siefert's suggestions: take any basic flaky pie crust recipe (I use Joy of Cooking, and I really have not memorized it yet after all these years) and add extra fat and extra water. Simple, non? She says she only uses Gold Medal Flour and Crisco. I use King Arthur Unbleached flour. As far as fat goes, here's the thing: vegetable shortening is very, very bad for you. Very bad. Butter is not so easy to work with and the results aren't as nice. Lard is out, as I am a vegetarian, much to the galette maker's dismay. I found some non-hydrogenated shortening at Wild Oats that works reasonably well for eating at home, and is much, much better for you (not that any of it is good for you!) than Crisco. However, if you want to win an award or a non-health-nut's heart, use the bad stuff.

So, for using extra fat: I use about 2 more rounded tablespoons? And really, I about double the water. (Sometimes even more!) And forget pastry blenders, two knives will do a much better job, and they are to clean. And don't touch it a second more than you need to, as the more you touch it, the less flaky it becomes.

I bought some pie crust guards, and those are nice to keep things from burning. And for the love of pie, please never use anything but a glass pie plate, the thicker the better. (Metal pie plates reflect the heat more and lead to a soggy crust.) I buy them at the Salvation Army so that if I accidentally leave one somewhere, I don't have to worry.

And one more word: pies are not for dieters. Do yourself a favor and don't try to make a low-fat pie. Either eat the good stuff and work out twice as long (isn't it worth it?) or choose another low fat dessert. Because eating a pie without a nice, flaky crust s like listening to an orchestra but only hearing the brass.

Monday, October 1, 2007

My beautiful goldfish, Mabel (picture taken by Maggie Carey). She is 8 human years, which is apparently equal to 123 goldfish years, according to United States Patent 5023850, "Clock for keeping time at a rate other than human time"

10 different flavors

1. My iron skillet is my favorite thing I own.
2. Approximately 53 "secret crushes" have tried to reach me through my yahoo bulk mail folder.
3. Jon and I picked apples at his parents' house yesterday and I am going to be canning some applesauce for the first time in several years.
4. Last night was the first night we slept with all the windows closed.
5. It's amazing how you can read the entire job section of the Maine Sunday Telegram and not see one that you will apply for.
6. I am going to make a quilt this winter inspired by this painting by Will Barnet:

7. On my desk is a Frisch's Big Boy coin bank with money from France, Cuba, Belize, Ireland, and Japan. I have only been to one of those places.
8. Some day I am going to own a tug boat company (run off biodiesel.)
9. I think I am not going to give up on music after all. Not just yet.
10. Sometimes I don't really like change (ahem, Iron and Wine, Local 188.)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Goodbye Soundpost

Tonight we went to the almost-empty Soundpost, where I bought some Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera paper dolls for my dad's birthday present. (Hope he's not reading this!) We will miss the Sunday night shows where people actually listened to the music. I think my favorites were last week's show with Matt Rock (this is my favorite picture that Jon has taken of a musician) with Ben Russell (from New York), and Dylan from Groupo Esperanza; Jack Ohly, Jacob Mitas and Joshua Marcus (from Philly?), and Micah Blue Smalldone and Christopher Teret. There has been so much good music there and we will miss it a great deal.

On another note, isn't it funny how we sometimes feel shy around people, and so we never talk to them, and then right before they move away, we realize that they are quite nice and friendly actually?

best party ever:

Last night, at our semi-new place. I think it was one of the best parties I've ever had, and definitely the best in our new place. Lots of great people, NO SPILLS!, great music, great munchies (thanks to Peter Smith for the apple galette), and dancing. Well, at least I was dancing. I think Maggie took some very Maggie-like pictures, so I'll see if I can post them here when she puts them on her flickr.

1. At some age people start bringing their beer and immediately put it in the fridge (as opposed to keeping it near them in a bag or such). Our friends span an age of about 30 years, so this is very interesting to watch. I have not figured out the exact age yet, but I think it's around 26?
2. Apparently top-shelf liquor= no hangover, or so we hear-- we're not quite there yet! But our friend Alex brought over some Cold River Vodka, made here in Maine from Maine potatoes. I did not try it, as I had already mixed the grape and the grain, and did not want to throw root veggies in there as well! Alex had quite a bit of the potato, and was up kayaking this morning.
3. There are some people that you really want to like. And you do, so you invite them to a party. Then you meet them when they're drinking.
4. No one can really tell that you mopped your floor before they came over, and then, after the party, you have to mop it again.
5. If you are sick and trying to be a trooper and go out, people can still tell you're sick, and they will wonder why in the hell you are out.
6. Everybody likes The Cure
7. In a city like Portland, everyone really does know everyone else. (And you really have to watch what you say.) Everyone that showed up to the party seemed to know half the people there, and yet, I would say that I did not know half the people at the party. It's always interesting in a city this size to take note of how many women in your living room have dated the same men as you. Yikes! But I guess that's part of the charm of our lovely city.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fall is the time for cozy, and cozy=homemade soup!

Once you learn how easy it is to make a good homemade soup, you will never buy another can of soup. (I'll bet it's been 5 years since I bought one!)

So, for a normal sized pot of soup, you start with a mixture the French call a mirepoix: a couple of onions, carrots and sticks of celery (formally a 2:1:1 ratio, but it all depends on size), and saute in butter or oil with some salt. There is no hard and fast rule here--it depends on what is in the fridge. Don't skip this step, though, because it really adds a lot o flavor to any soup. Throw in your bay leaf while you're doing this, as well.

Next, you need some broth. I am a vegetarian, so I use one of 2 things: for soups that would use a chicken broth, I use this vegan broth powder that my old roommate's sister would send her from Italy, called Brodo. It is delicious, and if I ever go there I am stocking up. Otherwise, use any broth powder, just watch out for sodium content and adjust your salt adding, as most broth powders and canned broths are very salty.

For soups that want a beefy broth, here is my little trick:
In my freezer lives a large zip-loc bag. In this bag go the parts and skins that we remove from onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, potatoes, beets, peppers, and other non-bitter vegetables. When the bag is full, dump it in a pot and cover with water. I usually throw in a handful of lentils and a splash of tamari, and if I happen to have it, a spoonful of tomato sauce or paste and a splash of red wine. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour or so. Strain well, and there is your broth. This goes very well with Moosewood's French Onion soup. I usually try to have some of this broth in the freezer in plastic containers.

With the combination of the mirepoix and the broth and a bay leaf, you are good to go--anything from here on out is easy as pie (that comes later). Search the internet for recipes, but usually with soups, I just put whatever stuff needs to be used up in the pot, then find some matching herbs to add just before serving, and it comes out lovely and cozy. Hopefully this is enough direction--I am just not a recipe follower when it comes to soup!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Global warming, eh?

Last week of Sept. and it was 90 degrees yesterday! Now, I work in the environmental field, and am totally concerned about global warming, and do what I can to try and reduce my carbon footprint. But, you gotta do what you gotta do. I rode my bike to my friend Jed's house and played in the sprinkler! And, I am a little bit excited about wearing my new summer dress before next year. (Maybe to the amazing Sontiago's new CD release party!) I got it for $10 at Marshall's on clearance, considering fall...was here.

Back to reality: I am also excited that in the past few weeks I have had more and more conversations with total strangers at the grocery store, farmers' market, coffee shop, etc, about our current administration, and it is giving me hope. Apparently George Bush doesn't need to be bothered with the UN workshops on global warming, or any binding international treaties. But, he'll make it to the dinner. Cause he really needs a free meal.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fashion help wanted:

Jon and I are both in the market for a new pair of sneaks. I am needing some all-purpose sneakers, good for wearing to the gym, power walks, my ridiculous attempts at playing tennis, etc. The problem is, all I find are really dorky sneakers. The fashionable ones do not feel like they'd be very useful when I put them on. There is not much arch support, and I really would not want to bounce around a court on them.

These are nice:

or these, for that retro feel:

I have to say, I really can't get into that super-dorky early 80's thing too much, cause, well...I already lived through that.

Anyway, here is what I end up finding that is actually functional:

It seems that lately many things have bridged the gap between fashion and function, so I would assume that sneakers have, too, no? So, any suggestions?

Low-budget apartment decor

About a year ago, I decided that it was time to step up my apartment decor. Time to get a little hipper, and get rid of some of the old stuff still lingering from my hippie college days (not posting any of those pictures!) I looked for some nice decorative pillows and could not find anything I liked in my price range. Then I found these cloth napkins, bought some pillows at Pier One (it was summer, so they had these hideous Christmas pillows for $1 each), and with my meager sewing skills, created these:

I was pretty happy with them, and they ended up being about $8 each. I was quite happy when Jon and I happened to find this awesome couch (that matches the pillows!) in the "as is" room in Ikea for about $200 off because of a 2 inch tear in the back at the bottom.

Help wanted:

Jon and I are not allowed to paint in our new place. And everything is white, white, white. I feel like I am in a hospital. We are on a very low budget these days (until I find my dream job), but we desperately need to get some color in our lives. The bedroom is the worst. Jon, God love him, bought a BEIGE bedspread when he was single. And his incredible photos are mostly black and white. So, we need some color on our walls! Any suggestions are welcome.

Speaking of color, here are some collages I made in my old place that have brought some color to our living room:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Gourmet Coleman Creations, part 2

Nothing beats fresh vegetables when camping, except maybe homemade pesto. (OK, a tray of hot homemade lasagna would be fantastic, but let's be realistic.) There are some vegetables that travel well and do not take a very long time to cook. Onions, zucchini, summer squash, and green beans keep well and are not easily smashed. Root vegetables fit into this category as well, but take an awful long time to cook on a camp stove.

Now for the homemade pesto part. Whip up a batch of pesto at home before you leave for your trip. You might even try freezing it in an ice cube tray and putting the cubes in a plastic zip-loc bag in your cooler, which will serve to keep everything else cool while adding to the life of the pesto.

Despite what many people think, pesto is very easy to make, and much cheaper and more delicious than store-bought pesto, no matter how fresh it claims to be. Plus, when you make it at home, you can make it just the way you like.

If you live in Portland, a stop at Micucci's is a necessity. There you can pick up huge bunches of basil for around $1.50, enough pine nuts to get the job done, and a variety of parmesan, reggianos, and other hard cheeses. If you do not have enough olive oil at home, you can get some here as well (please, use only the good stuff, it's not worth it t.o skimp on olive oil. Extra virgin only.) Heck, while you're here, you might as well take advantage of some of the best wine prices in town (two good extremely affordable, AKA cheap, wines that I love are Mommesin's Baton de Reglisse Syrah, which is about 4.99, and La Vielle Ferme, which is about 6.50 there compared to 7.50 or 8 bucks at Wild Oats.) Oh, and in case you haven't heard, the baker from Sophia's is there now. I have not been fortunate enough to actually get there in time to get some of his bread, but Sophia's had some of the best bread in town. One last Micucci's recommendation: their deli cheese is incredible, especially for the price. Whenever I pick up a half pound of mozzarella slices, only a quarter pound makes it home.

So, you get home with the Micucci's loot, get out your belnder (a food processor works even better) and get to work. You might want to put some Pavarotti on the CD player and pour yourself a glass of that wine. Wash the basil (my $5 Ikea salad spinner is great for this) and remove the stems. (Put those in the broth bag in the freezer that you will start after reading a future blog about homemade soups.) Put the basil in your blender, about halfway full, then pour in some olive oil. Toast about 1/4 cup of pine nuts on medium-low heat on the stove or in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Then dump these on top. You can start blending any time. Making pesto in a blender takes patience and is a bit messier than a food processor, but who can afford one of those?

Shred about 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese (or reggiano, or whatever you bought in that realm of cheeses). Dump that in the blender, top with some salt, pepper, and a small sprinkling of crushed red pepper. You will probably need to keep adding more olive oil so it will blend. Also, helping things along with a spatula will be necessary, if you have a $2 yard sale blender like mine.

When things are all saucy, you're done. A hint: my pesto almost always needs more salt. I just taste it with a spoon until it's to my liking. When it is to my liking, I will want to eat it with a spoon.

And voila! You are done.

Now, for the camp meal:
can of white beans
some leftover whole-wheat (much more flavorful than white) couscous from the night before
some sauteed zucchini and onions

Cook this all up together, serve it to your buddy with a glass of that red (white wine doesn't stay cold when camping), and watch the sun set. Marvel at how life is good to you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gourmet Coleman Creations

I have discovered a new love: fancy camp cooking. An emergency trip to Target the day we left for our 12 day trip found me with a brand new Coleman stove , and it might just be my favorite purchase yet (in addition to the admitting-I'm-over-30 purchase of an air mattress).

Oh, the creations I made!

My favorite breakfast was a pan full of Migas, (Mexicali eggs) inspired by my favorite Louisville restaurant, the North End Cafe, which sprung up a few years ago back in my old neighborhood. The North End uses mostly local and organic ingredients to prepare delicious meals and great coffee, and serves it up with all the charm you would imagine of a southern neighborhood eatery. Of course, there was no restaurant like this in Clifton in the old days, but, like many old neighborhoods that your parents moved out of as they moved up in the world, it is now the hip place to live. I can't believe how that neighborhood has changed. (By the way, I have to note a place that has always been a Frankfort Ave. staple, Bussmann Bakery. The best place to go trick-or-treating on Halloween--every kid's dream. You should go there and support a long-time local business.)

Back to the camping trip: Groceries on Cape Breton Island, as I have noted before, are very expensive, so we brought some things with us, bought a few things there, and forgot some things. Eggs, when packed responsibly, travel quite well, as do chips and salsa, and, though Jon would never admit it, cheese. Oh yes, and cooking oil, which is indispensable when doing the Coleman Gourmet thing.

So, here is a step-by-step guide on preparing Migas at a tentsite:

1. Go ask some neighbor campers if they have some cooking oil you could use, as you forgot that. Choose the ones that look like they brought their whole house, as they will happily oblige, since they are probably embarrassed about their ridiculous amount of things.
2. Toast some cumin powder in the oil over, well, whatever heat you are able to maintain with the wind on the beach and the fact that you are using a small propane tank (preferably medium heat). The cumin toasting smells really good and makes all your camp neighbors really jealous, as they are all probably eating instant oatmeal.
3. Whisk some eggs with a quick pour of half-n-half and some salt and pepper. Cook the eggs, stirring often, although they will stick anyway, as you are going to be using some cheap-o aluminum camp frying pan which you will not be able to wash for a while. Eggs get their fluffiest when cooked slowly over low heat, but this is camping, you are hungry, and low heat is hard to maintain on a Coleman when it is windy.
4. When the eggs are about halfway done, add some tortilla chips, salsa, and cheese. Stir some more. This is a good way to use up tortilla chips that have been crushed in the bag that got stuck underneath your guitar and map and pound backpack.
5. Eat right out of the pan, sitting on top of the picnic table next to your buddy, and smile as you watch bald eagles soar and whales feed off in the distance. The outdoors is where it's at.

I recommend:
-the freshest farm-fresh eggs you can find
-Green Mountain Gringo Medium salsa (if you live up here in New England. It's more local than others and more affordable than the delicious Guzman's, made in Portland.)
-Garden of Eatin' Blue chips


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cape Breton Island

Sorry, friends, the photography lessons have not happened yet, so I will postpone those blogs till later. In the meantime, check out Jon's flickr page for upcoming pics of our recent vacation to Cape Breton Island.

I will say this about Cape Breton folks: they are a bit hyper, which is hard to understand as they serve the weakest coffee I have ever had. They ask lots of questions, are friendly, and really want to please, about some stronger coffee?! Oh yeah, and the groceries are very expensive, but I can't imagine it's cheap to get anything all the way up there.

So we drove from Maine, through New Brunswick where we camped at the lovely Fundy National Park, where we will certainly go back someday (Grand Manaan has been calling me for years), and on up through Nova Scotia to Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Cape Breton Island is maybe the most beautiful place I have ever been. Huge cliffs crumbling into the sea, pilot whales just offshore fishing for mackerel, snowshoe hares nibbling through your campsite, bull moose about to charge your boyfriend, and ocean sunsets! Us East Coasters don't get to see those very often. The redness of the soil contrasts with the blue water and sky and the green foliage in a way that an 8-pack of Crayola markers could never reproduce. Camping on the beach, falling asleep to the waves crashing, warm bay water, hidden waterfalls for those romantic moments...I think I am in love. Now if we can just do something about the coffee...

Saturday, August 11, 2007


In the next few posts, I will be comparing the Portland peninsula to Manhattan. Jon is supposed to give me some photography lessons so I can add photos. I really enjoy finding the beauty in the everyday stuff around town--afternoon light on brick walls, the many-paned windows down by the waterfront, and the sunset light on the ocean, even though the sun sets on the other side.

First comparison: no one from Manhattan ever leaves Manhattan (according to Carrie Bradshaw.) Likewise, no one from the peninsula ever leaves the peninsula. If so, they get very grumpy, or it is for a trip to Ikea, in which case, they come back happy that they don't live in Boston. Once, we tried to have a party in Woodford's corner. Oops, haha, no one goes there! 99% of the guests were from out of town. In fact, we get so centered here that it's pretty hard to get people from the West End to go to a party on the East End. It's what, 3/4 mile walk? And if you are ever actually off peninsula and ask someone for a ride, they'll say, "No, I'm sorry, I'm not heading to the East End" as if that is really out of the way! Some folks are so peninsula-centric that they only buy stuff on peninsula! Luckily, Norm Jabar, owner of our favorite bar in town, just opened a hardware store on peninsula. Now, if we could just get an onion after 5:30 on Munjoy Hill...


Last night my friends' baby fell asleep on my lap while Jon was snuggled up next to me. Biological clock or not, it was fairly close to what perfection feels like.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


5 of them, this summer. Was invited to an additional wedding but i said no, and sent Jon instead. 5 is enough. I actually am excited, very excited, about all of them. Last night's was really fun, and anyone who knows Craig and Zoe is lucky because they are 2 terrific people.

But here's what i don't understand: what's with assigned seating? It's a lot of work to create the list and the name cards (I know, I had to do it at the last minute for a friend years ago). And, can't people decided on their own where to sit? I mean, here I am at this table with 3 other couples, one of which we know well, but then, my friends are on the other side of the room sitting with people they don't know either. It happened at the last wedding i went to as well.

Any insight into this tradition would be appreciated. PS--is it ok to buck the trend? Meaning, sitting at a different table than assigned?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

new favorite drink

limeade+ginger ale